Pregnancy Diet For Getting Pregnant
We all know the importance of a balanced diet for the benefit of our overall health. However, healthy eating is particularly essential during pregnancy, as the nutrition we receive from food is not only necessary for own health and well-being, but - perhaps even more importantly - for that of our growing baby as well. That's why we have composed this guide to give you all the nutrition facts you need - because healthy choices mean a healthy pregnancy.
How Should My Diet Change During Pregnancy?
If you were following the basic principles of a healthy lifestyle prior to conception, then you probably won't need to change your eating habits much. However, if you're used to junk food binges and other unhealthy eating habits, and smoke or drink, following a proper pregnancy diet may present more of a challenge.
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), pregnant women need only eat an additional 300 calories more per day more than their daily caloric intake prior to becoming pregnant - meaning that pregnant women should consume a total of between 2,500 and 2,700 calories per day while expecting.
That said, what you eat is actually more important than how much you eat. That's why it's so essential to eat a variety of foods that contain an assortment of the daily required nutrients. Since this may be difficult to do through consumption of food alone, it is usually recommended that pregnant women take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. In addition, she should try to incorporate healthy amounts of the following four groups:
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin C will help both you and your baby to develop healthy gums, while vitamin A will promote healthy skin, bones and eyes in your growing infant. Other essential vitamins and minerals found in fruits and veggies include folic acid, riboflavin, B vitamins and calcium. Pregnant women should eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) each day. To optimize the nutrients you are getting, try to look for fruits and vegetables that are rich in color such as berries, oranges, pineapple, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli and spinach.
Note: One serving of fruit = 1 medium apple or 1 medium banana or ¾ cup of juice; One serving of vegetables = 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or ½ cup any vegetable (cooked or raw) or ¾ vegetable juice.
Eating plenty of whole grains is a great way to ensure your body is getting the fiber, iron and vitamins it needs during this sensitive phase. In addition, eating the right amounts of "good" carbohydrates will aid in preventing the constipation and nausea sometimes associated with pregnancy. It will also help to keep your weight gain in check. Pregnant women should be eating between 6 and 9 servings of carbohydrates every day.
Note: One serving = 1 slice of bread or 1 cup of cereal or ½ cup of brown rice.
Milk and Dairy Products
Dairy is an essential part of a pregnant woman's diet, as she will need it to provide both herself and her baby with calcium to build healthy bones and teeth. Dairy is also a great source of vitamins A, B and D, as well as protein. When choosing milk and dairy products, aim for those of the low or non-fat variety. If you do not eat dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, as well as some nuts and soy-based products, are other good sources of calcium. Pregnant women should be eating 4 or more servings of low or non-fat milk and dairy products each day.
Note: One serving = 1 cup of skim milk or non-fat yoghurt, 1 and ½ oz. of cheese.
When choosing protein products, pregnant women are advised to select leaner options such as chicken and turkey, or fish. For vegetarians, eggs and beans are excellent sources of protein. However, women should stay away from raw fish or meat during pregnancy, such as those found in sushi products, as these foods may pose a threat to the baby. Also, women should stay away from certain types of fish that contain high levels of mercury. In general, pregnant women should aim to eat about 60 grams of protein each day.
Note: One serving = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, chicken or fish; ½ cup beans; ½ cup tofu or 1 egg.
And finally, don't forget to drink plenty of water - 8 glasses a day to be precise! And for coffee lovers, you may want to consider kicking the habit during pregnancy, as certain studies have shown that drinking caffeine may pose risks to a growing fetus. Alcohol, of course, is a no brainer. No amount is safe to drink, so abstinence from alcohol is the only way to prevent your baby from having any unnecessary physical or emotional deficiencies related to fetal alcohol syndrome. Lastly, if you ever needed a good reason to quit smoking, hear it is. Smoking while pregnant can cause low birth weight and many other fetus complications.
For more information on pregnancy diet and nutrition check out our pregnancy videos.